Scully’s spot plays for Gulfstream, Turfway Park on March 27
Major Kentucky Derby qualifiers are included in stakes-packed programs at Gulfstream and Turfway Park Saturday. I will preview the Florida Derby (G1) and Jeff Ruby Steaks (G3), and tab some other plays on the undercards.
Florida Derby (Race 14 -- 6:40 p.m. ET): #7 Greatest Honour should relish the stretch out to 1 1/8 miles. A maiden winner in late December, the Shug McGaughey-trained Tapit colt made a seamless jump to stakes competition, romping by 5 3/4 lengths in the Holy Bull (G3), but things didn’t come so easy in the Fountain of Youth S. (G2). Greatest Honour still found his best stride late to prevail, and I expect improvement from a mental perspective Saturday.
In the vertical exotics, last-out maiden scorer #2 Quantum Leap (20-1 morning line) and Fountain of Youth third #11 Papetu (15-1) have some appeal underneath at expected long odds.
Pan American S. (G2) (Race 10 – 4:09 p.m. ET): Contested over 1 1/2 miles on turf, the Pan American marks the second start of the year for #7 Moon Over Miami, who returned with a rallying third in the Feb. 27 Mac Diarmida (G2). The Smart Strike colt was caught in traffic before finishing with good energy, registering a 115 Brisnet Late Pace rating, and Moon Over Miami was starting to come on last fall for Bill Mott. He looks set to take a step forward as a four-year-old.
Cutler Bay S. (Race 11 – 4:43 p.m. ET): Unlike the Palm Beach S. last month, the Cutler Bay lacks pace. #5 King of Dreams posted a sharp wire-to-wire maiden tally over Gulfstream’s turf two starts back, and the Air Force Blue colt projects to receive a favorable trip on the front end Saturday with Emisael Jaramillo. He switched to dirt with a respectable fifth in the Tampa Bay Derby (G2) last out, and King of Dreams is listed as an attractive 9-2 third choice on the morning line.
Jeff Ruby Steaks (Race 11 – 6:25 p.m. ET): Bettors have plenty of options in the competitive 12-horse field, and Holy Bull runner-up #7 Tarantino rates a slight edge. The Pioneerof the Nile colt showed his versatility last year, recording a pair of wins and a nose second in the Zuma Beach S. while competing on turf, and the switch to Tapeta should be no problem for the Rodolphe Brisset pupil. His tactical foot should ensure a good trip, and Florent Geroux will be in to ride.
#8 Moonlite Strike gets blinkers, and the Saffie Joseph trainee looms as a front-end threat if he takes to the Tapeta. #9 Hard Rye Guy lost all chance when being stopped in the stretch of the Battaglia Memorial S. last time, and the in-form late runner may get the right setup on Saturday. Both runners will be included in multi-race bets.
Rushaway S. (Race 6 – 3:40 p.m. ET): Seven sophomores will contest the 1 1/16-mile race, and #7 Be Here wheels back 23 days later after a sharp 1 1/2-length debut score over a mile at Turfway. Out of champion Informed Decision, the Ghostzapper colt shows a pair of bullet works in the interim for Jonathon Thomas, who has won 11-of-28 starts (42%) this meet, and the outside draw should favor the stalker.
Bourbonette Oaks (Race 10 – 5:45 p.m. ET): A Kentucky Oaks qualifier, the one-mile Bourbonette Oaks marks the stakes debut for #7 Into Vanishing, who enters on a two-race win streak for Thomas. The Into Mischief filly graduated when switching to the Tapeta the third time out in mid-December, scoring by about a length, and Into Vanishing continued to move forward with a six-length romp a month later, netting an 86 Speed rating that stakes up well against her rivals. I like her chances on the front end with Chris Landeros.